Title page for ETD etd-0322102-120443

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Chance, Linda A.
URN etd-0322102-120443
Title Ecologically Sensitive Wetland Sites: An Investigation of Land Use Attitudes and Development Trends with Educational Objectives
Degree Master of Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.)
Department Landscape Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Anne Spafford Committee Chair
Sadik Artunc Committee Member
Van Cox Committee Member
  • hillside seep
  • developing sensitive sites
  • rare plant communities
  • building on sensitive sites
  • mires
Date of Defense 2001-10-18
Availability unrestricted
Acid bogs, one of the rare plant communities, are on the brink of extinction in the southeastern United States. This study uncovers what issues are at stake in land use, land development, and regulations of two specific areas in south Louisiana that contain this type of wetland.

This is an educational project oriented toward development of methods and information related to planning and design for the use of wetland sites while still protecting them. A hypothesis is presented that a combination of education with land use guidelines, helpful resources and regulatory incentives may help slow the eradication of bogs in the southern United States and increase the awareness of the importance of these small isolated wetlands.

Although small in size, acid bogs function in important ways to help society and surrounding natural ecosystems. Land use practices and attitudes towards building on sensitive inland wetland sites were investigated to discover what role developers and homeowners play in their destruction. Case studies of several Louisiana home sites found homeowner awareness of the wetland, but not of its value and consequently little effort being put into acid bog preservation. Property rights issues, plus the complete lack of market value recognition for the benefits of small inland wetland sites, were found to be at the root of the conservation problem. Likewise, a survey of developers in south Louisiana uncovered a disinterest in plant community preservation. Results point towards attitudes that seem to be governed by short-term monetary gain from wetland land use. Outdated development practices (draining and filling) in sensitive sites contribute heavily to acid bog destruction. More importantly, wetlands are being destroyed due to a slow and confusing regulatory process as the regulations for them are being followed.

Guidelines and helpful resources are presented in order to lower development costs and facilitate acid bog conservation on individual sites. Moreover, findings indicate that an area wide effort is needed due to the unique connections that acid bogs have with underground water systems. Not only can improved design opportunities and higher property values be enjoyed through acid bog conservation, but cleaner and more available water for communities can also be achieved by developing properties in such a way as to protect the unique acid bog habitat.

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